Sofia to Dublin to Belfast to Liverpool... phew.
Trip Start Jan 20, 2008
28Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The last blog covered our time in Bulgaria and mentioned that we had visited some friends (Anto and Marissa) in Ireland, so that seems like as appropriate a point as any from which to resume our disjointed narrative, so here goes J. ...Actually, before we arrived in Ireland, we flew into Luton from sofia. I don't really remember anything about that flight and neither does Doug, he assures me. But the very fact that we did actually arrive in Luton suggests that we somehow made it on board. We had checked in to our favourite hostel in sofia, the Art Hostel, y'know the one with the groovy cellar bar and as our flight was leaving at 6.30am the next day or somewhere thereabouts, we needed to be at the airport by about 0430 hours. After checking in, we decided to leave our bags in the room and nip down to the cellar bar for a few final Wymehckos (it was a Saturday night, after all...) and then, off to bed
We had two nights to kill before our flight over to Dublin and Dougie was going to stay in Luton at Kelly's (one of our friends from Whalley who had moved back to her parents house, handily located just down the road from the airport) while I hopped a national express bus up to Cambridge to visit Sharone. After a very brief visit, I was on a bus again the next morning and met up with Doug at Kelly's, where we were to spend the next night. That day though, we had business to attend to in London (claiming our refunds from the Korean Air office for cashing in our return tickets to Aus) so we jumped on a train and had a day in the capital. We didn't do much, but we did purchase something we'd been after for a while. A travel guitar. It's basically a normal guitar with a much smaller sound box. The neck and the fret board are all full size.
Anyways, we had wanted one of these type of guitars for a while because, like laptops, most airlines let you carry on musical instruments for free and they don't count as extra luggage, provided they're not too large
In fact, the very nearness of Kelly's house to the airport actually made us a bit blasé about how long before our flight we'd need to leave for the airport and when Kelly's dad sauntered downstairs in the morning and asked what time our flight was, his reaction gave us a bit of a start. "Fucken 'ell! Grab your stuff and get it in the car, I'll get youse down there right now!". Ok, I guess going to Ireland is still an international flight and the proprieties need to be observed, like getting to the airport early enough. As it was, I'm pretty sure we were just about the last people to get through the check in before they closed the counter, and then we had all the other security checks and other stuff to go through. At one point, I had both our small day bags, which we usually take as carry on luggage [because on all the budget carriers, you only get one piece of luggage to check in free] and Dougie was carrying the new guitar, about ten strides in front of me having already gone through the metal detector. The guard there bailed me up because I had two bags, of course, and you're only permitted one
Thankfully though, these guys were a little brighter than their Hollywood counterparts tend to be and a quick explanation, backed up by Dougie seemed to suffice. Then there was the issue that we still had three bits of luggage between two of us. "Yeah, but this one's a bloody musical instrument mate, they don't have to be checked in and they're ok for carry on. Come on mate, it's in the bloody luggage policy of the airline! (I had no idea if this was true or not, but it sounded good). "Fuck we're gunna miss this friggin flight if we have to fuck about with all this shit!". Well, that seemed to do the trick and we were on our way again. Who says swearing won't help, eh? We weren't late enough that we actually had to sprint for the plane or anything, but we definitely had a bit of a hustle on, especially being in an unfamiliar airport. I remember looking at our boarding passes and thinking, "oh, gate one! At least that'll be nice and close and we won't have too far to go" Yeah, right! Unfortunately, whatever misguided genius was employed to design Luton airport decided to number the gates from the outside in, rather than the more usual inside out, meaning that gate 1 was about as far away as it was possible to be, while still being in the same airport.
All the corridors we were going through appeared completely deserted
So, anyways, we did actually make it to Dublin on St Pats day, which was one of the things we'd wanted to do last year, but had managed to mess up. In this case, the second time was a charm, which was just as well, really. I wouldn't relish the prospect of another year of this bloody dismal weather, just so we could get that one ticked off the list. Sheesh. Getting to Dublin airport though, was only half the battle, so to speak. We had a phone number for one of the great blokes we met on our trip through turkey for ANZAC day last year, Anto Doyle, who had kindly offered to let us crash at his place in Dublin for a little while
Back at their place we were also introduced to "Buckfast" which wasn't a person, but a type of alcoholic drink. Disappointingly, Buckfast isn't actually a typical Irish drink but an English one. Despite having been in England for about 12 months, neither doug nor I had come across it, and let's face it, we were pretty familiar with a lot of English drinks. Anyways, Buckfast was a type of tonic wine (whatever the hell that means) from Kent or Cornwall or somewhere in England and inevitably people really do say, "Buckfast, it gets you fucked fast". In Dublin, which is a damnably expensive place to be, Buckfast is considered cheap alcohol, at about 10€ (probably about $22 AUS) for a 700ml bottle, but it certainly beats 6.80€ (around $12AUS, or thereabouts) for a pint
At this stage of our travels, we were also down to one mobile between the two of us as Dougie had lost the other one somewhere on one of the unpisted black runs at Pamporovo. Fortunately, or rather, unfortunately as it turns out, Doug had our last remaining phone at this time. Having failed to find him anywhere, I managed to dig the phone number out of my wallet and Anto gave Doug a ring. Of course, being in an unfamiliar city that we'd only just arrived in, Dougie couldn't really explain where he was, and according to Anto, it sounded as though he may not have known anyway. As patiently as he could, Anto explained that he would text the address of the house to doug's mobile and that Doug should just grab a cab back to there, we could pay for it when it got there, no probs. As soon as he got off the phone, Anto sent the address information to Doug and we assumed that he would be back at the house in short order as there were any number of cabs about. For reasons that are still unclear, this absolutely failed to happen and it wasn't until the early hours of the morning, around 0500 or 0600H, that Dougie arrived back at the house and the saga of his night began to unfold. Let's face it, the details are still a bit sketchy but Doug's best recollection goes like this: "I fucked off to that other pub down the road and then ran out of money, so I decided to go home, and then, for some reason, I wound up at the chippy with enough Chinese food to feed a medium sized army, which I also don't remember paying for
Below is the version of events that I created in the absence of some of the blanks Doug filled in above: (the bit about the No. 2 really did happen. He just left that out of his version)
As far as I understand it, Doug had become a little bored in the establishment we were in and had decided to go for one of his usual drunken meanderings and somewhere along the way got a little lost, or perhaps just a little sidetracked. Maybe it was a pretty face or perhaps just a particularly inviting looking pub, whatever the case Dougie wound up, somewhere else and got in a few more drinks. Why texting the address to him failed to work we may never know, but the most likely reason is that somewhere along the line, the phone got lost. It certainly wasn't with him when Doug lobbed in the morning. Apparently when he finally decided it was time to head home and realised that he no longer had the phone, Doug did the logical thing and tried to retrace his steps back towards the house, which was in Ranelagh. While it may be the logical thing to do, it's certainly not an easy thing to do, especially after a bottle or three of Buckfast, plus all the other St Pat's Day bevvies we'd had. Some of the rest of the details are even more sketchy, but there was mention of one of natures calls (no
After the madness and mayhem of "An Actual St Pat's Day In Dublin" (was beginning to wonder if we'd ever get that one ticked off!" we took a couple of days off to recover. We went for a few strolls with Marissa around Dublin and checked out the city centre and Trinity College, got a photo next to statue of the Tart on a Cart (Molly Malone), meandered down Temple Bar and basically had a good old lazy time of it. One of our more notable outings was with Anto when we went for a pint of the Best Guinness In Dublin at a pub that could only be described as "seriously out of the way". Stepping through the front door, was like looking back 100 or a 150 years, the only thing that gave it away was the cut of the clothes on the clients and the bartender. Anto had heard about this place from a taxi driver, so it had to be true, right? And everyone in the UK (ok, well not everyone obviously, but a lot of people...) says that the Irish keep all the best Guinness for themselves and only export the worst stuff. All of this put together, we decided, was certainly sufficient reason to go and investigate. After a somewhat circuitous trip there by GPS, we arrived. There was no mistaking it, this pub was the kind of place they had in mind when they coin trite cliché's like, "the real deal" or, "the genuine article". I'm really annoyed that we forgot to take the camera along, but then, it wasn't the sort of place you'd feel comfortable taking photos anyway
For a couple of days, the weather was lovely and sunny, which seems to be a bit of a rarity in this hemisphere. If there's one thing I'll definitely come home with from this trip, it's an appreciation of good old Aussie weather. I can actually remember thinking to myself at the start of the trip, "I'm not going to do the typical thing and bitch about how crap the weather is over here either". Clearly, I had no bloody idea what I was talking about, but that's certainly nothing new. The good weather in Dublin managed to last exactly as long as it took for us to book ourselves on to a day tour out to Malahide castle and the coastline north of Dublin
We also had a day out with Anto and Marissa and went to a place called Bray (?) which was on the coast and quite scenic. We climbed up the headland there and very unusually for Dougie and I, we were actually wearing suitable footwear. We've climbed a few mountains during our travels, and for the most part, we've done it in double pluggers. This time though, Anto and Marissa carried the flag for the cause I've just invented, "Climbing Things You Really Shouldn't, In Inappropriate Footwear". I'm not sure that it'll take off, but I am sure that there'll be other additions to it. In this instance, Anto and Marissa had come out wearing the slippers they normally get about the house in, unaware that the casual stroll along the well used path was going to be hijacked into an unscheduled stomp up to the top of the bluff. It was quite a lot of fun actually, though there were a few bits that nearly gave Marissa heart attacks
That was pretty much the end of our time in Dublin, for which we cannot thank Anto and Marissa and their housemates enough, as they were kind enough to let us stay with them for the duration of our stay. Thanks guys, we had a fantastic time in Dublin, and you're all more than welcome to come and visit us in Liverpool anytime you want. You may want to check that we're still here though, before coming, lol.
At Anto's suggestion, we put off going to Liverpool for a couple of days and decided to head up north to Belfast, a place which had never really been in our travel plans, but we thought, hell, why not? As it turned out, we were very glad that we went anyway. By comparison to Dublin, everything seemed amazingly cheap, which was good for us, as we had gone past the point where we were scraping the bottom of the metaphorical barrel of our funds, and were pretty much trying to dig up the floorboards. We only spent two nights in Belfast, which gave us enough time to do a Black Cab tour of the city, which was very interesting, as it took us to lots of places in the city where (in)famous or important events during the years of the troubles had taken place. We saw the Belfast equivalent of the Berlin wall, Bombay street and the murals which commemorate those who've died. Our taxi driver guide was very impressive with the depth of his knowledge, but also with his professionalism
On our second day in Belfast, we once again took Anto's advice and booked ourselves onto a day trip to see the giants causeway, which I'd heard about years and years ago, and had even seen on tv, but had completely forgotten was in northern Ireland. The giants causeway is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It's a type of rock formation which is almost unique in the world, the only other place that rock formations like it are found is allegedly over the water in Scotland. There are thousands and thousands of these strange hexagonal pillars of rock that form what looks exactly like a causeway (of very large proportions) which just heads out into the sea, straight towards Scotland. Apparently the Irish had a legend of a Giant fellow called Finn McCool (I'm really not sure if I have that name right) who had basically had enough of the Scots, so he took his broadsword and cut off the northern end of Ireland to be rid of them
So, moving right along... that pretty much sums up the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland trips. After that little day trip finished, we had the night in Belfast and then caught the ferry over to Liverpool, where we met up with our mate Al. We spent a couple of weeks getting used to the place, during which Al took us to the Grand National which was tons of fun and then the job hunting began. I got extremely lucky and scored an interview from the first place I dropped in a resume, a flash and fancy pub called, "The Pumphouse" down on the Albert Dock. The next day I went in for the interview and got the job. Doug has been more or less fully employed helping out with the renovations on Al's house where we'd been staying, free of rent (courtesy of Doug's labour). All things considered, I think I got the good deal, by being employed.
So, at the moment, we are still here in Liverpool, attempting to save as much money as we can so we can knock a few more things off our to do list
Well, I think that pretty much brings us up to date. That's what we've been up to, and where we're at now, so let me just say a big thanks to all of those who've helped us along the way. You know who you are guys, and we all appreciate it!
And also, a HHHUUUUUGGGEEEEEEE big happy birthday to my Dad who turns 59 on the 21st of May. Hope you have a great day Dad, lots of love from me.
And a big G'day to my sis, Robz!!! Take care of Dad and give him a big hug from me, will ya? ;)
And G'day to my Nan!!! (If you're reading this Nan, sorry about all the swearing, I'll have to ask Robz to print you out a censored version).
And of course, big G'day's and Hellos to everyone else back home and to our mates round the world. Can't have anyone feeling left out can we?
Bye everyone! Will write more, eventually. Well, will probably write more, at some stage. Y'know, sooner or later. When something interesting happens or something.